Misdiagnosis was rife in 1918, as in addition to the on going First World War, symptoms were also unusual and variable in many people infected with H1N1 making diagnosis difficult, as a result many were diagnosed with other infections such as Cholera, Typhoid or Dengue Fever. In addition to fever there was a widespread issue of haemorrhaging, with many of those effected globally bleeding from the nose, stomach, the intestines, and even from the ears and the skin in some cases. A similar problem remains over a century later, and is complicated further by a lack of healthcare infrastructure globally making testing and diagnosis even more difficult.
Although comparatively less gruesome, the SARS-CoV-2 has caused a range of reactions also, from severe pneumonia, fever, coughing, sneezing, and even more unusual symptoms such as a loss of smell and taste, and even purple legions on the toes. This is in addition to a currently unknown incubation period and a seemingly high number of asymptomatic carriers of the virus making the medical picture COVID-19 paints a distinctly difficult one to try and slow the spread of. But as testing is not being carried out in some countries, and very few are actually carrying out the World Health Organisation’s advice on testing, the widespread failure to diagnose is leaving many countries in the dark as to how widespread the virus actually is, potentially making under-diagnosis a similar complication with COVID-19.